Sunday, January 13, 2013

Ryugin - The Pinnacle of Japanese Cuisine

Hello Readers!

The next restaurant on my Tokyo holiday is 3 Michelin-starred Ryugin, which means dragon.

Quietly tucked away in Roppongi, Ryugin was an exceptional modern kaiseki experience. Head Chef Seiji Yamamoto's love for everything dragon is prevalent in everything from his gorgeous collection of dragon plates hung on the wall to the dragons intricately embroidered into our table cloths.

As for the food, Chef Yamamoto is able to embody traditional japanese cuisine whilst still pushing the boundaries with his own modern interpretations and methods. That night we had their Autumn menu.

We started off with some cold sake. Ryugin also offers to match a different sake to each course but unfortunately I'm not much of a drinker so we only had one bottle.

They also let us select a sake cup from a gorgeous selection of coloured glassware. I chose a lovely red one to match our bottle.

We began with a hot dish of mixed vegetables and a pine nut dressing. This small dish consisted of fine slices of 13 different vegetables. It was such a simple dish but the flavours blended perfectly, especially with the pine nut dressing. I could have easily eaten an entire bowl of this.

Next was another hot dish of Premium Sea Urchins from Hokkaido in a flash fried lace wrapping with Burdock Root and Mushroom soup. The sea urchin was rich and flavorsome and contrasted well with the delightfully crisp wrapping.

This was followed by a cold dish, a Ryugin specialty. It was Premium Monkfish liver from Hokkaido in White Miso sauce and Seasonable Vegetables. This was the first time I had Monkfish liver and it definitely won't be my last. The liver was so rich and buttery.

A beautiful bowl was then presented before us and we were instructed to remove the lid. Inside was an amazing soup of crab broth with pieces of Matsuba crab, the best quality of crab in Japan. The crab meat was so delectable and sweet.

Our soup was followed by Ryugin style sashimi. From left to right is Sea bream, Smoked Spanish Mackerel, Squid, Lobster, Sea Bream again and in the middle is Ikura or Salmon Roe.
All of the sashimi was incredibly fresh and tasted fantastic. I barely used any soy sauce, as the flavour of the fresh seafood alone was enough.

Our next dish was called "Autumn Colours on a Plate", it was Kinki fish, grilled eggplant and chestnuts. This dish was easily one my favourites. The fish was cooked perfectly, the skin was crispy whilst the flesh delicate and delicious. The combination of eggplant, chest nut and Kinki fish was a match made in heaven. The flavour of the fish worked well with the sweetness and nuttiness of eggplant and chest nut.... It truly was autumn on a plate. 

This was a simmered dish of Cod fish roe, a fried Tofu Ball with Crunchy Mizuna. It was a simple dish but had very traditional Japanese flavours.

We then had a Wagyu beef filet grilled on charcoal with an assortment of seasonable vegetables and mushroom chips. As expected, Wagyu beef lived up to its reputation and our meat was extremely succulent and tender.

Next was Rice topped with Chinese Cabbage and Sea Bream simmered with Sanshoo pepper, Miso soup and Pickles. I loved the colours of this dish, it both looked and tasted wonderful. 

Finally dessert was presented to us and I was beyond excited. Seiji Yamamoto's signature dessert was something we'd been eagerly anticipating before we even left Australia. This dessert was simply called Tangerine Candy but is so so so much more.

With our spoons we cracked open the delicate outside shell of the candy and a warm tangerine jam was spooned over. The taste and contrast of temperatures was wonderful and the delightful crackling of popping candy made this dish so fun and exciting. I can't begin to explain the complexities behind this dish but thankfully there is a video that explains the whole process (which can take almost 2 days)

This video is the strawberry version but naturally Chef Yamamoto changes the fruit according to each season. Please do take the time to watch it, it's simply genius.

Finally we end our night with a wonderfully baked Ginjou Sake Oyaki Souffle with a soft Egg Cream. After such an amazing and elaborate meal, I was quite content.

At the end of the night, I asked to have my menu signed by the chef! I was pleasantly surprised to see that he had written his name, stuck a Ryugin sticker on it and used his official stamp as well. 


Currently 28th on the list of world's 50 best restaurants, Ryugin is another one of Tokyo's culinary gems. Chef Yamamoto pays extremely close attention to the seasons, which guides him in sourcing only the best of ingredients. His flawless skills and deep respect for the integrity of ingredients combine to create food that is avant-garde yet still steeped in tradition.

Impeccable food and service, Ryugin is a must try in Tokyo.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Tokyo: Les Créations de Narisawa

Hello again!

I'm back with the next part of my "Tokyo food adventure".
Today's blog is about Les Créations de Narisawa! It is an amazing french restaurant located in Minato-ku run by chef Yoshihiro Narisawa, who has trained in Switzerland, Italy and even France. The philosophy of this restaurant is most definitely a celebration of nature and the elements, respecting the seasonal changes and transformations. Narisawa recreates these spectacular landscapes through food. Once you see the photos, you'll understand.

The restaurant seats around 15 people and features a viewing window, where you can see the kitchen. I requested we have a good view cos it's always fun to see behind the scenes. We were in Tokyo during late November so we had their Winter collection menu, the theme being 'Evolve with the Forest'.

And this is where the magic started haha! The top left corner of this picture is actually our chestnut bread, gently fermenting before our eyes with the heat of a small candle. They later baked it in a hot stone bowl right at our very table!

Our amuse bouche was Essence of the Forest, which was chestnut water infused with a taste of the forest. The flavour was a shock and was very intense, immediately evoking a sense of being deep within a forest. I think it was to prepare our palate for the dishes to come. There was also Bread of the Forest - Sumi. 'Sumi' means charcoal in japanese and is reflected in the black colour of our bread. Although not the most attractive , the bread was soft and fragrant and the onion inside extremely sweet.

Next was Saba Mackerel. The flavours were so vibrant and fresh, especially with the sauce on the side. 

This next dish is called Ash 2009 - Scene of the Seashore one of the most memorable dishes of the night.

This perfectly cooked spear squid was transformed before our eyes with a sprinkle of "ash" made from liquid nitrogen and paprika. The fog created is reminiscent of an eerie and cold sea but soon disappears leaving a great smoky flavour to accompany the squid.

This next dish was called Luxury essence 2007. A 6 hour chicken and pork broth with black abalone and winter melon. Such a strong flavour and perfect to be having during the winter. 

Unfortunately, I've somehow lost my pictures of our Langoustine and Snapper but I can reassure you that they were delicious.

Our next dish was called Sumi 2009, which is Hida Beef. The beef undergoes a very long process where it is coated in charred leek that is matured and cured for 3 days. On the outside the beef looks like a simple lump of charcoal but is then sliced open to reveal a perfectly tender, blushing cut of beef.

I'd also liked to share this as well. Narisawa even made something as simple as bread and butter remarkable. 

What appears to be a mossy rock was our butter! 

This was our dessert. Waguri, Chestnuts in Yamazaki Whiskey. 

The best was yet to come... The dessert cart arrived at our table and I could barely contain my excitement. After the waiter explained each dessert to us, we had to try them all so asked for one of each dessert! 

Included was an array of tiny delectable macarons! Each of them were different flavours or different levels of cacao. Macarons aren't my favourite but it was hard to resist trying them all.

My boyfriend and I had a wonderful night, filled with intricate and mesmerizing dishes. We were able to try dishes unlike anything we've tried before whilst discussing and appreciating the complexities behind them.
I can definitely understand why this restaurant was ranked 27th best restaurant in the world.

It's not as trendy or vibrant as L'atelier de Robuchon but instead has sophistication and minimalism. I really love how such an elegant restaurant with such a pristine and methodical kitchen produce such amazing dishes that celebrate the rawness and earthiness of nature. 

Thanks for reading, it's a particularly long but I'm trying something different and a bit more detailed.
Let me know if you like it....

See you for the next part of my Tokyo trip!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Tokyo: L'atelier de Robuchon

Happy New Year, everyone! 
I hope that everyone's 2012 was memorable and that your 2013 will be even better! 

Today's blog is about one of Joel Robuchon's restaurants in Tokyo, called L'atelier de Robuchon. It's located in Roppongi hills and truly was a unique and incredible dining experience.

The restaurant is gorgeously decorated with elements of nature, accompanied with shades of a lavish red. We sat at the bar, which is definitely the best place to enjoy a view of the open kitchen. We were lucky enough to sit right in front of where they do the desserts. 

We began with our amuse bouche and we opted for a special set menu where we can select each course.

I had 'Le Crabe' for my entree. It was alaskan crab, avocado and lobster jelly served in the most gorgeous and creative glassware I've ever seen. It tasted amazing...I'm a big fan of crab and avocado!

My boyfriend's entree made mine look dreadfully boring! It was a Salmon Tartare with some gold leaf served in a bowl chilled with liquid nitrogen. This dish not only tastes divine but the showmanship is what really excites you! If it were tuna, this dish would have been perfection.

This is our waiter, Sylvain putting the finishing touches on my soup with foie gras ravioli. The flavours were amazing, really rich and intense. 

For my main I had a Guinea fowl with some mashed potatoes. A really delicious bird with a delicate crispy skin and moist meat. The potatoes were a buttery dream!

Finally our dessert arrived! It was gorgeously constructed but the only way I can describe it is chocolate on chocolate on chocolate on chocolate...It was chocolate prepared in 5 different ways, more than enough to give the biggest chocoholic a run for their money. 


Dining at L'atelier de Robuchon was absolutely delightful. My boyfriend and I were able to enjoy an incredible meal whilst watching all the action in the kitchen right before us.

If you're ever in Roppongi Hills definitely try this place out. They have a cheaper lunch menu during the day but bookings are still recommended. There's also a little bakery/bread section as well, where you can purchase some freshly baked goods from the restaurant.

Thank you for reading, see you next blog!